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The Difference Between A Virtual Assistant And Staff

The other day I heard from an attorney who was looking for a Virtual Assistant to help him in his bankruptcy practice. It became immediately clear he was operating under several misconceptions, but primarily that Virtual Assistants are a form of cheap employee labor you donít have to pay taxes on.
He about had a heart attack when I informed him that the average rate range of Virtual Assistants was between $35-$70 per hour. When I inquired as to what his expectation was, he explained that even at $35 per hour, he wasnít in any position to afford $72,000 a year for someone to assist him 40 hours a week.

Whoa! Hang on there! Let me clear up this medical emergency.
When you work with a Virtual Assistant, you are working with an independent service provider-not an employee. Therefore, how and when you work together isnít going to look anything like the way you work with an employee. You arenít employing us for a part-time or full-time work week. Rather, Virtual Assistants offer strategic support delivered on a monthly basis.
Virtual Assistance is the best fit for solo and small practice attorneys who donít have the time, space, budget or a large enough workload to warrant hiring an in-house assistant. Unlike project-oriented secretarial services and freelancers, Virtual Assistants work with clients in ongoing, collaborative relationship, with a typical commitment from the client of between 10-30 hours per month.
A Virtual Assistantís services will allow you to focus your efforts on your main income-generating activities-client work and marketing. Using average figures, letís say you decide to retain a Virtual Assistant for 20 hours a month. If paying a simple $900 retainer each month allowed you to be more focused, get more efficient, increase the number of billable hours you have available, and at a minimum could potentially increase your revenue by even $50,000 a year, wouldnít you think that was a pretty worthwhile investment?
So how can solo and small practice attorneys afford to have the help they need? I say-how can they afford not to? Because mark my words, your practice will never grow beyond where it is today by trying to do it all yourself.

Posted on January 3, 2007 in Practice ManagementBy Danielle Keister

Is the Virtual Assistant/Client Relationship Right for You?

Virtual Assistance is a fantastic solution for business owners seeking ongoing, continuous, collaborative-style administrative support - as long as the right understandings and expectations are in place. It's not the miracle cure for everyone and every business. Indeed, there are some businesses and clients that are not a good fit for the Virtual Assistance solution. Today, I want to talk a little about those who are best suited to work with a Virtual Assistant.

The Virtual Assistant and client dynamic works best if the client has the following traits:

1. Somewhat technically savvy. You donít have to be an expert on every program out there; but, you should at least be proficient with email and have a basic understanding of the Internet. You should also be willing to learn and grow in your computer knowledge as needed.

2. Able to communicate well. You will be in close contact with your Virtual Assistant (usually through email) so it is important to be able to state your expectations, deadlines, and other matters clearly. If you areunable or unwilling to talk about your needs and desires for your business, how will you expect your Virtual Assistant to assist you effectively?

3. Willing to let go. If you are controlling, arrogant or have a strong need to micromanage, there is no way a Virtual Assistant will be able to support you. She needs the freedom to do her work without the constant ďmother henĒ or ďbig brotherĒ over her shoulder checking her work.

4. Willing to trust. Along the same lines, the Virtual Assistant/client partnership will prove to be difficult if you have trust issues. Trust is essential when dealing with any relationship; however, it is critical in virtual relationships. You are not there to see her as she works, so you must be willing to believe that she will do what she says she will.

5. Willing to delegate. If you are always thinking that you have to do this or that yourself, you will defeat the purpose of partnering with a Virtual Assistant. There are many, many things that you can pass on to a Virtual Assistant (or other expert, as the case may be). If you arenít sure if something can be delegated, just ask. A top-notch Virtual Assistant will have her own systems for the delegation process and will make suggestions on how she can support you--listen!

6. Willing to put systems in place. The Virtual Assistant/client relationship does not work well if you are in a constant state of emergency/stress/chaos and have constant urgent deadlines. Virtual Assistants arenít always readily available. They usually have more than one client and need to organize their work so as to be the most efficient and effective as possible. It is important for you to communicate well, give ample time for turnaround when delegating projects, and allow your Virtual Assistant to put systems in place

7. Respects and appreciates the partnership. If you only view Virtual Assistants as employees or slave labor, the relationship will not thrive. Virtual Assistants are business owners and experts in administrative assisting. They are NOT low-end employees and should not be treated as such.

written by: Carol DíAnnunzio of Divine Virtual Assistance

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